View Full Version : Anybody know the adhesive used in countermounting prints by Strand

Larry Kellogg
14-Dec-2014, 06:53
Yesterday, I went the Paul Strand exhibit at the Pholadelphia Museum of Art. Great show, closes January 4th.

In the beginning of his career, Strand countermounted prints in order to get them to be flatter. He would use a reject print back to back with a good print. In one case he countermounted an Atget print that he got from Berenice Abbott to the back of his print!

Any idea what adhesive he used? I'm sure conservationists would hate this approach but I'm curious.

16-Dec-2014, 22:11
Ansel adams suggests such an approach in The Print. His method is simply to dry-mount a good print back to back with a rejected print. As for specifically what the dry-mount adhesive Strand might have used is, I haven't got a clue. Dry mount tissue is essentially wax-impregnated tissue paper, perhaps with some additives, so going back that far, it's probably just wax and tissue paper and little else.

David A. Goldfarb
16-Dec-2014, 23:27
Could have been wheat starch, which was a common adhesive for works on paper and easily available.

Will S
17-Dec-2014, 05:43
Were these prints varnished too? I'd love to see some original Strand prints. He was evidently extremely obsessive over them.

17-Dec-2014, 06:58
Given the period probably gum arabic or modified starch - these were the common water based paper adhesives back then (both in pure form for archival quality and in commercial bottled mixtures). As long as the adhesive does not bleed or decompose, it does not really matter in terms of conservation - stabilisation is achieved by the symmetry of the two papers, so even glues we'd consider destructive in a asymmetric mount due to a tendency to induce warping might be safe.

Larry Kellogg
17-Dec-2014, 07:17
Thanks for all the responses, I didn't realize Ansel Adams had suggested this approach in his book. I'll go back and read that section.

I suppose I could try this with dry mount tissue, but what commercial water-based adhesives might work? I don't think we've solved the problem of curling in fibre prints. I've thought about dry mounting to boards but have been told not to by some commercial black and white printers due to archival concerns.

Yes, I believe many of the prints were varnished. You still have a chance to see the prints at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The exhibit closes on January 4th: http://www.philamuseum.org/exhibitions/805.html

Larry Kellogg
17-Dec-2014, 08:42
Well, there is no free ride, from Ansel Adams' The Print:

"I consider dry mounting by all odds the best method."
"A few adhesives that are not likely to cause damage to the print themselves (rice paste or flour paste), have an unfortunate tendency to attract insects or support the growth of mold or fungus, any of which can destroy a print."

I guess I would rather put up with the curl.

Drew Wiley
17-Dec-2014, 09:53
Could be ordinary mucilage glue or wheat dextrin paste. And yes, bugs and microbes will eat this stuff, just like humans ate wallpaper paste during the siege of